Well, we told you the passage was wet and windy and we weren’t kidding! It was a very cool trip though, sore muscles have relaxed, and with sleep caught up I figured I would tell you about a few of the amazing things that happened while we were at sea.
1. Dolphins – yes, I saw another pod of dolphins swimming past us one morning while I was on watch. It is still as breathtakingly magical as the very first time I saw one. I always listen to the sound of their blow hole, amazing!
2. The night of the flying fish… It all started with Phil below deck and a “splash”,”plop”, “flap flap flap” followed by a “what was that???”. I took a look over the side of the boat and there were 2 decent size flying fish (almost 10 inches long) flopping around on the boat. It took considerable concentration to grab the slippery things but over the side they went. Then my turn to sleep “splash”,”plop”, “flap flap flap” followed by a “what was that???” Phil threw another two over, my turn on watch again and it was more of a Bang, flip flip flip as 2 came hurtling into the cockpit with me! A tiny scream and then to action stations, both of those made it over too… but lest we forget the unlucky ones, the one trapped under our step at the back (oh dear, I still forgot to throw him over… at least he is pretty dried out by now), the one folded into the portabote, not the nicest discovery and the 21 small ones glued to the deck. I know there were 21 because I counted each of them as I peeled them off and threw them overboard. The best part was that one of them flew properly like a paper airplane!!!!
3. Our bird!!! Small, (about as long as elbow to wrist), black with a white tuft between the eyes, beautiful black almond eyes, webbed feet, pointy beak. Poor thing was tired and wanted to rest on our boat. First time I saw it as the sun was setting it came from the front of the boat and scared me half to death! Landed and tried to stay on the hardtop, but was blown off, hung out on the dodger for a while and let me touch it!!!!! It was amazing to see its control while it wheeled around at night, and it made me very glad to not be close to other boats when you realized how two independent things can move compared to each other. Anyway, bird ID would be great! That’s all for now!
The rest of Bonaire was amazing, we got laundry done and I have officially lost one of my favourite socks, was bound to happen. We walked along the dusty roads back to the big supermarket, I had to drag Phil out, he was enjoying the airconditioning and selection so much! We managed to get mostly ready the night before we left and just had a few jobs to do that last morning.
The passage to Colombia was about 530 nm and we still haven’t quite sorted out the best way to estimate how long it would take, I am always conservative, Phil is always more accurate. We figured on 4 days, but by day 2, we realized that if we had sped up instead of slowing down at the start we would have made it in 3.5, oh well. It was an interesting passage, the first two days were past Curacao and Aruba (didn’t stop) and then out over the Caribbean sea, we saw a few ships and had to change course a couple of times, and ended up with a tiny scrap of sail up to slow us down enough to try to get to Cartagena by the morning of the last day. It was quite wavy and you had to hold on, when the rollers went under you they were quite gentle, but when the broke just as they got to you it was loud and wet! Realized our juice and milk storage was only good up to 20 kts, so the 35-40 was a bit much and I did almost cry about our spilled UHT milk, mostly b/c I was dreading how to clean it out of the bilge! Getting close to Colombia was amazing, the smell of the land was intoxicating. Then we rounded into the harbour and it was SO smelly, oil and smog. The motor is was very cool, past old walls and forts, but the water is so brown (stirred up mmud/pollution?) that we couldn’t see and ran into a few tree branches along the way (nothing serious but hearing a bump sends shivers down your spine!). We tried to call port control on the way in to be proper and they just didn’t answer, so we came up to club nautico and dropped our anchor. I had dreams of showers, a club house, a drink with an umbrella, and they were a bit cruelly crushed. Turns out Club nautico has been stopped mid rebuild so there are some plastic chairs and blue tarps, that’s about it. We did realize that they have showers, so hopefully will take advantage of one today!
I know I owe more about Cartagena, but that will come in due course! Off to fill up a few buckets (including our “holding tank” which thankfully we didn’t need to us) with water.
Bye for now!
Finally, a chance to be on the internet and to catch up on everything, internets, the most important Skype calls, and finally finish telling you all about Dominica. Christmas, the beach was hopping, and we recovered with fully bellies. And we learned that mulled wine looks great in Pewter goblets but is easier not to burn yourself using wine glasses with insulated stems! Managed to hike up the west side of the Cabrits, to see some great views and some of my favourite little mountain crabs. The next day we headed back to our favourite hike and took the side trail up the Indian River tributary, saw buttress roots instead of paying $20.00 each to get rowed up the river. We would have done the tour but unfortunately we never saw our friend Fire who would have taken us after Christmas eve morning at 7 am when he was still drinking, so managed to find the scenes ourselves.
We decided to try to see some of the other views and Phil found a place called Lodat that had incredible scenery and was off the beaten track, so back to the bus we went, crammed in 4 people across (seats were definitely made for 3 people) and off we went. The first 30 minutes was flying along a paved road, the last was bumping along a dirt road. We got into Rosseau and tried to find a bus to lodat. The problem with the buses being vans is that if it isn’t your route no one seemed to know where to catch the bus from. So we walked and walked and eventually found a bus to Trafalgar falls after we decided that there were no buses to Lodat. I love taking the bus, you meet such interesting people and see so much more than if you just sat in a taxi.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how much you love people watching) there were 2 cruise ships in that day so it was PACKED. We asked the trail guide if we would need the hiking boots I so lovingly had carried from Portsmouth and he just laughed. So off we went on a very developed trail, past some of the slower tourists and finally got the waterfalls, they were amazing. My favourite part was that we could go right down to the water and I sat in a wonderful hotspring, it was the first fresh water rinse I had had in days and it was brilliant. The tourists were amazing to watch, a very European family who hadn’t worn swimsuits was prancing about in very fabulous underwear, others were looking so well put together, despite sitting in running water, how they do that I will never understand! It was very interesting watching how people navigated rocks with no trails, like watching ants crawling around. After the hot spring I sat in the cool water that came from the waterfall, so refreshing.
We were still hoping to hike but no one knew any hikes near by, thankfully we saw our favourite blue and yellow trail marks marking the Kabuli trail and off we went. It is like a magical trail that takes you down roads that you would never get on otherwise. We saw a huge mountain and realized we must be walking around it and off we went, up and up and up. Then we realized we weren’t going around the mountain, we were climbing up it! It was incredible, parrots, smooth billed anis (a bird my dad studies) and we looked down on a rainbow. Hiking and hiking, watching our watches, we realized we would have to turn back if we didn’t find a village, just then the skys opened and we realized that while hiking in a rainforest you should always take a raincoat. So there we were, drenched to the skin and finally saw houses and realized we had reached Lodat, unfortunately no time to explore b/c the bus that we hadn’t been able to find was coming at 4:30 (luckily everyone in Dominica was so fabulous at helping us find our way around). So home again we went.
The next day, we went into Portsmouth and searched for a bucket with a lid, our high tech holding tank that we needed for Bonaire, despite seeing them around town everywhere, we couldn’t find one to buy. Finally went into a fabulous electronics store and were given one. Then that night met some lovely new friends Boris and Julia who had us over for delicious sausage and a delicious rum drink from Martinique – good luck on your journey guys! Afterwards, preparations made for our passage and off we went, into the blue.
The passage to Bonaire was lumpy at first, lots of waves coming from different directions, so lots of holding on b/c you couldn’t quite figure out where the boat was moving to next. But a good quick passage none the less and we made it to Bonaire in 3 days, it was very cool watching the salt flats come into view and I thought I saw giant birds that were actually kite surfers (may have already written this, who knows!). Okay, so with that I should check what I have told you about Bonaire and get back to filling in the rest of our adventures to date, thanks for keeping track of us!
What a lovely country. We've had a few good days exploring, rented a bike (had to ask for helmets which aren't mandatory) and drove around the island, it was so cool, so many lizards it was like the opposite of whack-a-mole, more of a dodge-a-lizard! They were all crossing the street, luckily Phil is a great driver so they all still had their tails when we were done! We went for a walk in the national park, it was amazing, like a completely different country, dry red soil, huge cacti and saw a white tail hawk swoop down and gobble one of our lizards on the way out! We went to the salt flats, and to check out the local windsurfing and kiting scenes (they don't mix here) and then found an AMAZING grocery store, like being in Europe and it has so much delicious food!!!! Our first two dives were just amazing, and even snorkelling around the boat is lovely, I saw trumpet fish, angel fish, thousands of smaller fish it seemed, very cool crabs, little segmented worms and christmas tree worms!!! Still hard to find internet, but we have found a wonderful ice cream shop that has it (Lilly's, the icecream waffle is highly recommended!). Still some work to do on the boat, but has been nicely de-molded, have our parts from Budget marine (including a new solar shower, a bit of a pain b/c we had one in Bermuda, but can't remember everything), hopefully another dive and then off to the next port. Pictures when we actually have internet that I can use from the boat!
Okay, so we have been here for 4 days and I haven't managed to write yet.. be gentle, we have had such a tough time finding internet (as we speak I am SLOWLY sipping an ever warming beer just to be able to sit long enough to write this!). So, this place is the shore diving capital of the world, quite amazing, you aren't allowed to throw ANYTHING overboard, no anchors, no messing with the environment, no leaving batteries, in all very eco concious. The diving is so accessible, I am used to having to go out with boats and divemasters, here we walked up, with a sheet describing our experience, they handed us a tank and sent us out, the only rule was our first dive had to be right near the rental shop so we could swap out any gear that didn't work. It was amazing! There are so many fish and since fishing is highly restrictive they are all really friendly. Lots of huge schools, and a shelf of reef that goes from 20-80 feet! We had a lot of fun going through my Paul Humann book and circling the things we have seen. There are as many divers here as yachties in some of the other places, equally cultish but different, funny that we are now the minority in visitors, most people come for a diving vacation, rent a truck and gear and off they go. We have decided as there seems to be NO public transport that we might rent a scooter and explore the island, they have huge salt flats and apparently flamingos. Don't worry papa, I'm bringing the binoculars on our land mission b/c I just saw a flock of parrots fly over head, good thing is you can hear then before you see them.
So first dive was good, although I did have to go through the inhumane punishment of trying to get into my wetsuit infront of 50 tourists lounging on chairs under palm trees, some things you should just never have to go through. Phil was very kind, he said my wetsuit had just lost a bit of stretch, hope he was right! Second dive was at Angel (??) a very cool double reef, an amazing number of eels and we both can't get over the fish. Looking forward to frites soon Mosquitos have been terrible, Phil sacrificed his feet to them last night as I lay mummied up in the sheet sweating away, it is amazing how cold it can be at sea and how warm when you are tucked up in the bow of the boat! So, beer is done, shops are calling, going to try to discover where the laundromat is, make our 4th purchase at Budget Marine (and our 4th country) and then maybe my frites???? Okay, I promise to go home and write more about dominica because it was amazing and to fill you in on our adventures here because they have been fun and to in general catch up on remembering everything... Hugs to one and all
Well we didn't quite make it on time to wish you happy new year because we were sailing across the caribbean sea! I've sailed across a sea, how cool is that (okay, just part of one but still!). We owe you more stories about dominica etc. but right now I think we are both going to hit the hay. Seems like we are getting better at this passage stuff, but with big seas and trade winds it was a bit lumpy and so cooking was pretty challenging and sleeping, I never knew I could love it as much as I do right now! Highlights of the passage, shooting stars, peanut butter cookies, 4 dolphins at 8:30 am this morning playing in our bow wave! Braving 6 hours of non-medicated sailing and surviving and making lunch for Phil, it is amazing, I was planning on making soup with pasta:
step 1: pasta
step 2: soup base
step 3: add boiling water to 1 and 2 and put in a thermos
finale: you'd be surprised, I thought we'd have soup, but we had well cooked noodles! still, I was quite proud to make phil lunch on the boat!
Bonaire is beautiful, we have walked around a fair bit and are both excited to head out for a dive soon, but sleep beckons first.. Will write more soon I hope!
I just finished washing the dishes from our big Christmas feast and can't help but reflect on all of the wonderful Christmas's I've had and all the dishes we've washed! It is a good christmas but a different one for sure. We had a lazy morning and managed to sort out the internet, Hooray! Made a feast of a roast chicken on the BBQ, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry, carrots, broccoli, corn, and gravy, delicious, best part was the table is beside the saloon berths so after dinner we didn't have to even move before we had our nap! I swam into the beach, the sand is incredible, really dark and beautiful.
A huge thank-you to Alex for an amazing Christmas gift and to Peter and Sheila, Tim and Chris, you guys really made it special with your treats and made us feel not so far from home! And for everyone we managed to get a hold of it is so good to hear your voices!
Since we've beenWe have managed to get out for a few hikes, the Cabrits was a beautiful walk on a rainy day. That is the way it has been going it seems, rainy mornings, sunny afternoons, loud bass and music all night (9 pm - 6 am) then quiet in the day. The guys on small boats come and offer stuff,like tours/ fruits adn vegetables. We managed an amazing bus ride (which deserves a blog of its own) to Roseau the main town for a great day of exploring and amazing scenery on the way. We are anchored just off of portsmouth and yesterday we went into town for the market which was incredible, came home with beautiful christmas flowers, and more citrus than I should eat! and the passion fruit.... delicious! So, going to rest my head but Merry Christmas to all of you.
Well, if anyone had tried to tell me how hard it is to find an open post office, I honestly wouldn't have believed them, but here we are, 4 countries, 5 towns (would have been 6 except the North Easterly swell) and not an open post office to be found! Marigot - line ups down the road, not sure if everyone was so excited to send christmas cards, but am guessing the fact that the post office also doubled as a bank and western union had more of an effect on its popularity, English Harbour - was open when we made it into town but closed at 2 pm, sign on the door said open till 4.... oh well, Barbuda - no one, didn't actually get to talk to a Barbudian much less make it to town and the donkeys looked like they might have eaten my letters instead of mailing them, Jolly Harbour - a shop that sold postcards and stamps, not open, and now here we are in Portsmouth - found the post office and it was sketchy, doors chained shut, no signs of opening,I'm not going to give up hope but at this rate I might not be able to get my letters off until New Zealand!!!
Other government offices that cause a deep breath - customs, coming into and out of countries and for that matter, even harbours within countries is a bit of a bore/scary/tedious...
officer "Good morning"
Us "good morning, we'd like to clear in please"
Officer : please go to the second desk from the left, the the third desk from the right, fill in the form they give you then take it back to the second desk on the left, then go to the small window on the side, then back to me to pay, then back to the customs officer - oh wait he isn't there... and make sure you press hard enough to make 5 copies of the document...
Customs guy - looking at us grumpily as he gets up from watching his horse racing and checking facebook "harumphfff"
Checking out fo antigua:
4 ladies playing dominos, one at a time they got up and went to their separate offices as we went in and filled in our respective forms, at least they were friendly!
Dominica- the cruising guide says it is one of the easiest places to clear into, not quite, looks like we will have to clear out of Portsmouth adn then into Roseaux and then out of roseaux, what can you expect, the poor man that phil dealt with was a "SAD officer" not kidding (stood for sub-authorized something or other!)
Well christmas season is upon us, not going to eat the pig snouts we saw on offer, excited for a big fruit market, fruit salad for christmas morning?
Will let you know!
A wet and windy passage from Antigua to dominca, we didn't quite follow the sailing instructions of staying either 7 leagues off of Guadeloupe or 2 pistol shots from shore and as a result had patches of no wind where we drifted in circles and patches of lots of breeze! Here in Portsmouth now and getting settled. It is a beautiful island, often the tops of the mountains are behind the trees. Lots of guys on small boats coming around to see us and offer fruit/vegetables/ tours, you name it! Walked around town yesterday which was fun. Always interesting to go to different shops, and realize how lucky we are! Todays big plan is to head out for a hike! Rainy and windy so glad we are safet